The James Krüss Award for International Children’s and Youth Literature, inaugurated for the first time in 2013, goes to the Dutch author Joke van Leeuwen. Her two main translators into German, Hanni Ehlers and Mirjam Pressler, will also be awarded. With the constant quality of her books, her innovative approaches and her immense respect for her young readers, the Dutch author has been composing outstanding books for children and young adults for many years.„Each of her books is a small work of art in itself. The author and illustrator is a master of linguistic and visual means. With great ease she switches between the level of text and images by playing with the imagery of language and the symbolism of images. As with James Krüss, her work is distinguished by a great sensitivity for the language and forms she uses, by a meta-literary quality to the texts, in which she explores the various possibilities of literature in an imaginative way, and by a great sympathy for her child protagonists. A characteristic feature of Joke van Leeuwen’s books is a fresh, irreverent and reckless tone, with which she describes childhood as a personal cosmos without idealising or glorifying it. Her books have a socio-critical depth to them and point to the author’s passionate advocacy for the rights of the child. This also reflects the literary kinship of Joke van Leeuwen with the man whose name this prize holds, James Krüss – says the jury, consisting of Dr. Roswitha Budeus-Budde (Süddeutsche Zeitung), Robert Elstner (City Library of Leipzig), Prof. Dr. Emer O’Sullivan (University of Lüneburg), Dr. Christiane Raabe (Director of the International Youth Library) and Dr. Michael Schmitt (ZDF Kultur/3sat).
Joke van Leeuwen, born in 1952 in The Hague, made her literary debut in 1978 with her book Die Appelmoesstraat is anders. Since then she has written over 60 books, including picture books, books for children and young people and non-fiction titles. 13 of her books have so far been translated into German. Her main translators are Hanni Ehlers and Mirjam Pressler.
The prize giving ceremony will be held on Thursday 4th July 2013 at 7.30 pm in the International Youth Library, Schloss Blutenburg. The award winner and both translators will be present for the occasion. The laudatory speech will be delivered by Sibyl Gräfin Schönfeldt, who knew James Krüss personally. An afternoon session for children with the author is also currently in preparation.
The James Krüss Award for International Children and Youth Literature will be awarded every two years in memory of the linguistic artist and citizen of the world that was James Krüss. It is to recognise and promote storytelling, openness and tolerance. The award celebrates the complete works of a living author of children’s or young adult literature that stands out for its linguistic skill, its originality, its imaginative way of storytelling, its variety of forms used, and its humanity.
Benefactor of the award is the James Krüss Erbengemeinschaft (James Krüss Community of Heirs).